Pages From the Goncourt Journal

Pages From the Goncourt Journal

Book - 2007
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Random House, Inc.
No evocation of Parisian life in the second half of the nineteenth century can match that found in the journals of the brothers Goncourt

The journal of the brothers Edmond and Jules de Goncourt is one of the masterpieces of nineteenth-century French literature, a work that in its richness of color, variety, and seemingly casual perfection bears comparison with the great paintings of their friends and contemporaries the Impressionists.

Born nearly ten years apart into a French aristocratic family, the two brothers formed an extraordinarily productive and enduring literary partnership, collaborating on novels, criticism, and plays that pioneered the new aesthetic of naturalism. But the brothers’ talents found their most memorable outlet in their journal, which is at once a chronicle of an era, an intimate glimpse into their lives, and the purest expression of a nascent modern sensibility preoccupied with sex and art, celebrity and self-exposure. The Goncourts visit slums, brothels, balls, department stores, and imperial receptions; they argue over art and politics and trade merciless gossip with and about Hugo, Baudelaire, Degas, Flaubert, Zola, Rodin, and many others. And in 1871, Edmond maintains a vigil as his brother dies a slow and agonizing death from syphilis, recording every detail in the journal that he would continue to maintain alone for another two decades.

Book News
Once they established themselves as brothers (they were born to an aristocratic French family ten years apart) they spent only one day separate from each other until Jules died of syphilis in Edmond's arms. The years before and after were marked by all the belle époque had to offer as they wrote novels, plays and criticism together, attended every drama and ball, participated in every public and private conversation, and patronized every possible Parisian entertainment. They were intimate enough with Hugo, Baudelaire, Degas, Flaubert, Zola and Rodin to be a part of the vicious circle of gossip they maintained about each other, but most important, the brothers de Goncourt wrote eloquently and yet also elaborately about it all. The result not only shows exactly how belle the literature, art, drama and cultural sensibilities of époque really were but also outclasses any celebrity nastiness of the present day. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Publisher: New York : New York Review Books, 2007
Description: xxvii, 434 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. ; 21 cm
ISBN: 9781590171905
Branch Call Number: 843.09 Gon


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